Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Waiting with Bated Breath

Tomorrow is the new year. I'm going out on a limb and publishing my resolutions. I'll surely regret it, but, well, it's likely the only serious chance that I'll follow through on them. To avoid embarrassment.

Until then, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reflections in General

As the old year draws to a close and the holidays slide by, it is easy to think about the things which have happened in our lives. I think this is because in memory we are perhaps most human. Reflection means we can pass judgment on people and things, as well as on ourselves.

Times like these are exactly when we realize what is important to us, and hopefully why whatever that is is meaningful to ourselves. I find that memory brings the strongest emotions forward, and that it is when we live in the moment that memory will serve us best over the years.

For all the pictures and old family movies and now e-mails which I have amassed, it is the things which I do not have a solid record of which mean the most. I have no picture of my oldest son's first T-Ball at bat, my next son's simple groundout which scored a winning run precisely because he hit behind a runner, or my daughter's 7 consecutive foul liners which startled her teammates on the bench every time the ball screamed towards them, yet they mean more to me in remembrance than the few team photos ever will. Even when we have a lot of pictures, as with my wedding, it is what exactly happened on that day which comes to mind more than any quick pic which was taken and stored. I don't need the pictures; I lived the event.

That's why I'm not particularly fond of picture taking or video recording events. It all too often distracts from living the event. And that is what should matter. Be human. Live the day rather than live for the photo op. In the end, the high points of our lives will be much richer.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It doesn't get any worse than this.

They teased us. Teased us right until the very end. Actually scored quickly, which was precisely what they needed to do, after falling ten points behind in the fourth quarter of yesterday's game. Of course, they immediately gave up another touchdown on a long bomb to replace that lead for the Green Bay Packers. In the end they lost 31-21 en route to becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history.

What did I say back in September? Oh, yes: never, EVER, believe in the Detroit Lions. That quick score was a fluke, that 'just enough' they always manage to offer which makes it seem like they might actually pull one out. Horrendous. Simply awful.

Thankfully, it should be the last I'll have to say about the Lions until at least draft day on April 25th. They'll draft exactly the wrong guy, I'm sure, but hey, that's the Lions. Never believe.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Value of Recycling

Today is the day that we take our recyclables to the recycling center. As I've mentioned before I'm not particularly a fan of recycling. That does not, however, mean I am diametrically opposed to it.

Unless I miss my guess, I think the conservative position on recycling is akin to the conservative position on almost everything else: if it's necessary, truly useful, advances the safety of human beings or, quite frankly, if it pays without violating any moral norms, we are open to it. This list by no means exhausts the questions we might have about recycling or any other issue. It merely sets the table for discussion.

We are not, no matter what liberals may say about us, obstinately opposed to change. We only ask that the change is genuinely worthwhile or serves a greater purpose than what we were doing before. There's no point being fools about it: if recycling is what we have to do to keep planet Earth habitable for us, then we should do it. I am not convinced that it saves the planet all that much wear and tear. I am merely stating that if it can be reliably demonstrated that without recycling we, or our heirs, will die out due to our lack of proper stewardship, then we ought to recycle heavily.

The trouble is that I don't see that being the case, and the burden of proof must lie on the shoulders of those who think it is rather than on those of us don't. It is fair to ask: why must I change my habits because you think it good? Give me something concrete and we'll talk. Otherwise, I am well within my rights to wonder whether anything projected over a large scale is actually predictable. Telling me that without recycling we'll be piled with trash or run over with landfills within a couple hundred years is nonsense on its own face. Scare tactics merely scare. How about a little rationality, a little perspective? If you're right, the sanity of your cause will come through.

Why shouldn't I ask whether the process will pay me? It strikes me that we give away paper, plastic, glass jars and so on, solely for someone else to benefit from it. If it pays, why can't I get paid for it? The answer, essentially, is that these products don't really pay anyone unless given to them. They must be had in large quantities or they aren't worth handling; the true value of those products are virtually nil. Yet I can and have gotten cold hard cash out of my scrap iron, aluminum, and copper. Why? Because they hold a decent value even after their initial use. Even now I am willing to concede that if there is a greater necessity, something beyond monetary value which I ought to consider, then I should consider it. If we will die out by about 2025, or especially by next Tuesday, without recycling, then let's do it and forget about who gets paid what. Otherwise, it's just scare tactics again.

Is recycling truly useful? Certainly for a few, but for the general society? You're asking that a lot of people go to a significant effort to turn in garbage; again, where is the empirical proof or practical reason for it? I'm not all that interested in how recyclables are used outside of that context. So there are playgrounds where shredded old tires can soften a kid's fall: would there be no other ways of doing this, ways perhaps better, with new materials? I don't know the answer. I'm only asking. But I am within my rights to expect a good answer.

As it stands now, my attitude is live and let live. If you want to recycle, then recycle. Only don't force your preferences upon me without just cause. Your say so, no matter how heartfelt, is not good enough.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Give Symbols their Meaning.

There is a bit of grumbling going on about some of Barack Obama'a selections of people and things for his inaugural. I commented about one aspect the other day: the evangelical minister who will give an invocation. Many now are complaining about him being sworn in on the Lincoln Bible. "It's only a symbolic gesture", one friend lamented to me yesterday over Christmas dinner.

What the President-elect is doing may well be little more than gestures, sops tossed towards the right in a perhaps overwrought attempt to make us feel comfortable with him, to make us feel 'included'. Indeed if I were a betting man I would be inclined to agree. Liberals generally don't care what conservatives think or feel: they do what they want. Regardless, let's play fair: maybe he does mean it. He surely recognizes that we will agree on little; perhaps this is his way of saying that he nonetheless recognizes our part in the culture, our contributions to our nation.

When all gets said and done, it is at least arguably unfair to say (as we have) that he doesn't care about us and then decry any attempts he makes towards our affinity. But what concerns me more is the idea that he's only 'using' symbols. Again, yes, he may only be using them; but we must be careful about dismissing symbols as 'only' symbolic. We risk putting our own respect and admiration for symbols onto the dustbin.

Old Glory, statues of war heroes, elephants and donkeys even: only symbols, but they represent very real and true people, things, and ideals. Hasn't it been the left, generally, who show no respect for symbols? Do we want to be like that? Once we are, the symbols themselves will grow meaningless. Do we want that?

If you want to be upset at all, be upset that perhaps he is employing symbols wrongly or selfishly. I don't know that such is the case, but that type of concern would at the worst be anger better spent. Don't dismiss his use of symbols lest you dismiss the symbols. At that point, it truly would not matter.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Venite, Adoremus Dominum!

I drink too much. I have lazy streak a yard wide and a mile long. I do not do enough for the poor and downtrodden, and I do not do enough for my family. I am unfair and unkind to people I don't even know, and to too many that I do know. I waste time on trifles, time which could and should be used for better purposes. Yet God sent His only Son, for the redemption of souls like mine.

As St. Paul says, Christ 'emptied himself' and became one of us. Because, in part, he had to become like us so that we might understand him. So also that we may not say He was unfair; he faced trials like we do, lost friends, fasted and prayed, and ultimately died on trumped up charges. For the salvation of souls; for my salvation. He wants a personal relationship with each one of us so much that he gave 'that last true measure of devotion', as Lincoln said of the troops at Gettysburg but which sounds more appropriate here at Christmas, to be said for the One who best understood devotion.

He has come. He has come for us!

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Et in terra pax hominibus!

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Spirit

Tonight, as they say, is the night. It's Christmas Eve, and all the preparations are just about in order. I have to thank my wife and daughter for the overwhelming majority of that work; I made a trip or two to the store and that's it. Thanks, ladies! To simply sit back and enjoy is gift enough for me, and I appreciate it.

My favorite part of the whole Christmas season comes now. We'll meet at church before Midnight Mass and sing carols, and the church will be lit up right as Mass starts, with the glory of Christmas morning following. Our parish, Sweetest Heart of Mary in Detroit, MI, is a spectacular old building, built when they knew what churches should look like. I miss our old parish, St. Dominic's, a victim to declining inner city Catholic population, but this one certainly is a grand old dame.

I don't want to turn this into a rant, but I'll risk that by saying that I would eschew every trapping of the holiday, every inkling of conspicuous consumption, for people to simply sit back and reflect on Christmas itself. What does it mean? How do we properly enjoy it? What exactly would be a decent balance of celebration and reverence?

Personally, I find it in those carols as we wait for Mass. That's when the appreciation appears for me: the anticipation of the Christ Child coming for our sakes. That's when I get the shivers and goose bumps, and come near tears. That's when Christmas comes for me. I hope so for you as well.

Adeste Fidelis. May the blessing of Christmas be upon you, now and for the coming year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Stream of Consciousness Entry.

The Detroit Lions are 0-15. They are the first NFL team to start 0-15, said a sportswriter in today's Detroit Free Press. Not that it matters, but can 15 games into a 16 game season be accurately referred to as a 'start'?

Barack Obama is taking heat over the minister he selected to give an invocation at his inaugural. Rick Warren is too conservative, say the liberals. That is certainly not surprising. More surprising to me is that Obama invited him, under the guise of 'coming together' as a nation. That concerns me more than any backlash against pastor Warren. Is the President-elect on the level or simply offering a sop to the right wing in America? Either way, I hope he sticks to his guns. That would be a true test of his reaching across ideological lines.

Not that I expect any significant compromising from Mr. Obama as president. Inviting an evangelical to speak at a public event is one thing. Actually risking your political neck in upsetting your core supporters is another. I can't see that ever happening, but I'll give him his first 100 days and see.

Really cold here in Day-twa, and more snow tomorrow. maybe a move south wouldn't be such a bad thing. To all you global warming nutbars, PHHHT!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the Nature of Knowledge.

And looking out on high I saw Aristotle, the Master of Those Who Know, ringed by the great souls of philosophy.
-Dante, The Inferno

The exact translation of the line I paraphrase above seems in some dispute; what Dante is saying precisely is beyond my poor academic powers to determine. But the gist is reasonably accurate: the poet was speaking of Aristotle, and Aristotle was being commended for seeking and holding and teaching real knowledge.

Not, of course, that Aristotle's knowledge was perfect; no one's is. The overriding point is that we can know; we can hold a real knowledge of and appreciation for persons, things, and events.

Many thinkers today do not accept this preposition. My professors of education (I will not call them teachers) were very open in that they did not believe that there were any things true for all time and all places. In that light, should we be surprised that so many schools do such a poor job of education?

Questions of religion are tossed off as little more than personally interpretive systems which, at best, only help individuals cope with the traumas of this world. Could this be a reason that reverence for anything beyond the person involved has paled lately?

In politics, issues are little more than vague platitudes which help people get elected. Perhaps that is why men and women of depth and understanding eschew elective offices, for they understand that real things are at stake and are too busy actually dealing with them in real time?

Moral virtue is now all too often seen as a myth; should we wonder why there is so little respect for people and institutions?

All of this and far greater errors are based on the idea that we cannot really know anything. The fact is, if that axiom is right (please ignore such irony this moment, for we all know it's there but isn't the point here and now), if there is no universal knowledge which we can all, if we wish, understand, then there is no meaning in the world or to life.

Do not fear. That cannot be the case. Aristotle and all the dead white guys, and a great many others of varying races and creeds (for truth is eternal and thus widely spread across cultures and peoples) have shown us that we can know. Forget the liberal academics who have no respect for that tenet; it shows only their ignorance. Ignore the science trumps religion tribes; they will not accept that knowledge has different tests in different areas. In science, the test of truth is empirical. In philosophy, the test is Reason. With Theology, the standard of evidence is Faith. In the end, all knowledge compliments itself across these three major branches of her, that goddess we call Wisdom.

We can know. Therefore we can act. We can act for the greater good of ourselves and our world. We can do what we must with the clarity that truth is with us, that it dwells among us and at all levels. In the end, that is why we will win and the liberal elements across the spectrum will lose. We have something to stand on. They have a bedrock of air.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Very Catholic Rant Redux - Or - I'm Becoming a Curmudgeon, Part Four in an Everlasting Series.

I cannot believe that I forgot about my vow to curmudgeonliness. My rant the other day was supposed to be cranky, and I ended up being positive. That just fuels to this fire, doesn't it?

The priest should not face the congregation, am I right? He's leading the service, for crying out loud. The bus driver doesn't face the passengers, does he? Face the altar, not the crowd. You're Christ's representative on earth, not to Earth. That was him.

And what about a return to the office of acolyte while we're at it? You want to know why we're not getting enough priests, it's because we aren't encouraging it. Make it so that assisting the priest at Mass, at least if you're male, that's right, ladies, is the first step towards the priesthood. That's how it ought to be.

Why not employ Latin? It's a tradition of the Church, and unites Catholics everywhere. When everything's in the local tongue, you get division, not community. What's more, translations must naturally grow farther from the root language, if we're not very, very careful. We can't readily believe that hundreds of languages say the exact same thing, can we? The prayers of consecration are supposed to be identical all around the globe. If they're in Latin, that ain't a problem.

And people in the pews will learn it, too, if that's the case. Haven't they had to learn all those hokey love one another hymns since the sixties? You expect that, but you don't think can learn a smidgen of a language. What gives?

Start actually refusing to give abortion supporting politicians communion. It's not like it's a secret, where they stand. Challenge them; force them to live by the creed they claim to support or admit they've left it. Why am I supposed to be o-so-open to all yet they can't be told to tow the line on a very basic, straightforward issue? I'm told to change my conservative ways with great frequency. How about they change, and actually act Catholic?

Act Catholic. Isn't that what we're supposed to do? If we act too much like we're only another part of the world, we may soon not be distinguishable from it.

Do I need to say more?

Friday, December 19, 2008


Since when do we get two inches of snow per hour in Detroit? My back hurts just thinking about shoveling...

To my son in Cuber with all those I have to imagine you're glad you're there! I miss the days I could wake you and your brother up and make you clear the walks!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Knee Jerks and the Moral Imperative.

Yesterday I spoke a bit about how many shallow thinkers are knee jerk, and that liberals take advantage of that. I suppose it is only fair to allow that there are knee jerks across the political and philosophic spectrum. Of course there are; but the more conservative, more traditional thinking ones, however shallow their reactions may be, are safer than the rest.

Those who react to stimuli rather than act on principle, the ones who respond in selfish ways to the conditions in their lives instead of really thinking about what they might truly need or what may be best for society in general, pose a threat to everyone's well being. This includes, yes, right wing reactionaries. But they at least have principle on their side, however tenuously the connection may be. They are, dare I say it, on the right side. We must keep them in our camp for two reasons.

First, if someone is starting from the correct point of view there is a greater chance of leading them into holding the right attitudes for the right reasons. If the foundation is there, a sturdy building may be built. Second, in holding to the best principles they are themselves more likely to lead others into the fold. Perhaps their obstinacy may demonstrate to others that they might actually be on to something, especially considering that truth is its own best calling card, one which can be read even in the dimmest light.

Liberal knee jerks, however, on their own level teach selfishness. They may occasionally lead someone onto the path of righteousness, but that would be incidental in the way that a bad example is good as a lesson in error. Poor thinking by and large only leads to poorer thinking.

We see that in the sexual permissiveness of our society. One of the reasons, for example, that gay marriage is wrong is that acceptance of one type of error easily leads to acceptance of other errors. Once a taboo is broken, and that could be any taboo mind you, it is easier to break more even in seemingly unrelated areas. For we are creatures of habit, and poor habits in one aspect of our lives may lead to poor habits in others. If sexual morality is off the table as liberals wish, then it really is a short hop to wondering whether stealing is wrong. For the moral imperative, the Tao of C.S. Lewis if you will, is a whole. Disease in one part of society is bad for the entire community just as a cancerous lung threatens the whole body.

True, conservative knee jerks may drive people away by their callousness, and shame on them for that when and as it may happen. Yet even then, if we are to believe that we are actually responsible for ourselves, the person driven off is no less responsible for seeking the just and true. For we are still obliged to seek the true and the just and act accordingly. It is how we become better people.

So cut the right wing curmudgeon a little slack. He at least has tradition on his side. The left have only the shallow pool of selfishness. It can dry out in the sun. A pool of good thought is more readily able to become an ocean of justice. It will withstand the heat of the moment.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Depths of Ignorance

"Republicans? They evil."

I should not be shocked to hear such commentary, especially after some twenty five years of political commentary. It's reflective of a lower class, knee jerk view of the political scene, an attitude of which liberals take full advantage.

You must understand that the speaker of that quote, I know by first hand knowledge, is not the sharpest tack in the box. He's 'a bubble off plumb' as a heating contractor I know would say. But no matter: the salient point is that the man clearly does not think things through. He wants what he wants because he wants it, and someone should just give it to him. He believes what he believes because it suits his belief system, and nothing more. This is the very definition of modern liberalism. And no fair asking questions about whether it is deserved or moral or merited. Society should simply give him what he wants because he wants it. I know this because I have spoken to him frequently. He is a student of mine, and something of a slacker.

Liberals play to this mentality, obviously enough, by promising him everything he wants. That's essentially how Barack Obama became our president-elect, though Republicans not acting Republican over the last few years surely helped. The left craves power (they are a showy, vain lot) and they get power by relying on the basest aspect of humanity: jealousy. It's not fair that other people should have what I don't. It's not fair that better paying jobs go to other folks. It's not fair that I should have to work for what I get. It's not fair that a rich woman can get an abortion and I can't, that farmers can sell their land to developers when I think that land that I'll never see should be kept pristine or that polar bears in the Alaskan wilderness should be hampered by oil rigs. If it ain't what I want, it's not fair.

And if you don't accept this train of thought?

You're evil.

Here I thought it was the Christians who had the holier than thou market cornered. You learn something new every day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Very Catholic Rant

I am coming to the conclusion that Vatican II was ill advised. I will not do what some of my traditionalist brethren have and call it a mistake; at some point Faith must direct to us that God would not lead His Church into serious error. That does not, however, mean that She will not occasionally employ poor judgment.

The liberalizing effect on the Church has not been without noticeable waves of trouble. It does not seem coincidental that the drop in vocations began in earnest after the Council; The Dominican nun who was the counselor at my son's school has told me that the in the very first year after the changes of Vatican II went into effect candidates for the sisterhood in her Mother House dropped by well over three-quarters. Further, Mass attendance has slipped so far that many churches have closed. The question is, why?

I rather believe that it lies to a degree in the loss of the spiritual aspect of Catholic religious practice. We don't appear so interested in saving souls as we are in social justice and just getting along. Not that social justice and Christian charity are unimportant values. It's just that, social justice without regard for the soul is an empty vessel. Feeding the hungry is one of the key callings of our faith. Yet to feed only their bellies cannot nourish them in the wonders of Heaven or set them on the road to a fruitful relationship with God. It only maintains a body which, on its own, will eventually rot, and nothing more.

I attended a Tridentine Mass for the first time awhile ago and was struck by the the mysticism of it. It was as though something magical was happening: bread and wine became the body and blood of our Lord. It wasn't just Christ sharing a meal with his friends, as some Vatican II supporters have alleged of it. It was a miracle. A miracle of salvation.

So I'm thinking we ought to get back to tradition, and I am seeing signs of just that. Latin is creeping back into our services, and Catholic prelates are calling out Catholic politicians who don't act Catholic. We are not far removed from the pontificate of John Paul the Great, who had encouraged a return to the old values and norms while working for meaningful dialogue among faiths and nations, an ideal Benedict XIV is building upon. There are even indications that vocations are slowly rebounding.

The future, then, is not so bleak as it may seem to a few of my fellows. We simply must get back to the old idea that if you want people to sacrifice you've got to give them something worth the effort. If you want people in the pews you must appeal to their spirit. Even if all you want is an end to hunger and decent shelter and health care for all, you need an appeal to the eternal. You must speak to the soul. The rest will take of itself.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bailout, shmailout.

Just time for a quickie today, but as to the death of the auto industry bailout: at least someone in government still has some principles. The auto industry isn't going to fail. It simply wants easy answers and wants them via your checkbook. If they'd have sent the same message to the mortgage and credit card folks, we'd be better off.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leftover Thursday

Today is Leftover Thursday. Got any Thursdays that you don't need?

Seriously, it's the day of the week in our household where everybody eats whatever they want. It's a way of clearing the fridge before trash day, which is Friday. So today we have a veritable smorgasbord of tasty delights.

My daughter and I went tooth and nail over who got the last of the chili from Tuesday. No, you can't split it. That would only be a tease: no one would have enough chili then. All you Obama stands for compromise people, hear this: you cannot compromise a serving of homemade chili. It's impossible, out of the question. No one is happy. Crawl back under your Democratic rocks while Republicans follow the American way and fight it out.

The loser, not that anyone really loses when my wife's cooking is available, can choose among turkey soup from Monday or Wednesday's most excellent sloppy joes. There's even cold pizza left from a party, and we all know how truly good cold pizza is. Don't lie to me; it rules!

So as I go to my teaching job, arm in a sling from losing the chili war to that daughter of mine (where did she learn that painful armlock?) I smile, knowing that plenty of food options remain for when I get back home. Like that sloppy joe.

What's that, hon? Abby got the last of that too? And you're finishing the soup?

I knew I should not have taken the time to blog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hockey Nuts

I like Ice Hockey. It is a fast paced, active game, and hence its allure. What I have little stomach for are hockey nuts, players and fans alike.

Take Sean Avery. He's been on the hot seat lately for making disparaging remarks about a former girlfriend. That should not surprise any guy; exes crab about the dumped other or the one who walked out all the time, and it's not limited to the male of the species. Still, Mr. Avery was particularly crass. For that, he has been seen as a pariah, suspended for I think 6 games, and berated to the point that I have heard several hockey nuts of the fan type saying that he should never play in the National Hockey League again.

Look, the guy is a jerk. But to insist he should never play hockey again is way beyond a reasonable objective reaction. Especially considering that all he was being, however indefensible, was crude. This coming from people who have defended Todd Bertuzzi as a mere hockey player doing his job as an enforcer when he stalked a player and viciously attacked him, ending the guy's career. That, I've had explained to me numerous shallow times, is 'just part of the game.'

Calling a woman names is worse than criminal assault. Until the hockey nuts out there can get away from such a dumb mentality, their sport deserves to hold second class status among our major leagues.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Houseful of Women

Today marks the day of my wife's annual ornament exchange. Friends and family come from all over metro Detroit to exchange homemade Christmas ornaments. It's a good time, and the gifts are exchanged randomly, so there's an element of surprise that adds to the festivities.

So what does a manly man do in a houseful of women? He hides on the computer, that's what. Manly men know that you can't take a woman two falls out of three when it's one on one. When there's 18, that just means 18 times the horse whuppin'.

Manly men also don't mind admitting this. The ones who say they can take 'em, well, they lie, and manly men know that. Manly men are comfortable with the limits of their manly man-ness. And they aren't fools, either. They know that manly men play fair, and that the fight will be fair. With the female of the species, they're devious. You don't love them, you don't listen, you just don't 'get' it; these are the tools of their trade when you have the upper hand. Then you capitulate.

All right, maybe manly men don't 'get' it. But they're survivors. They live to fight another day. Whenceforth it happens all over again.

This isn't going the way I had intended. Not at all.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dead Frogs and Sad Clowns

Teaching adult education for twenty odd years now has been fun, and occasionally rewarding. Yet certain moments are bound to stand out; two of the funniest have only just happened.

While grading a short essay for an Economics course, the student was asked the difference between stocks and bonds. In an obvious yet hilarious cut and paste off the Internet (a practice we frown upon and grade accordingly), the answer began: "Stocks were medieval devices of public humiliation and torture." It went on to explain, in some detail, the exact nature of certain forms of torture. Reading this challenged my attempts to stay calm and professional, to not laugh out loud at my desk in a room full of students. I was under control until the last sentence: "Bonds are government issued interest bearing securities."

Well, the student was half right in his answer.

But the funniest to date was last night. In picking out an English assignment to grade I went on to completely lose my composure in peals of laughter. I had to leave the room for ten minutes initially, leaving the other teacher (there are two of us at all times in our teaching arrangement) to lament my difficulty. Lucky it was a slow night.

The assignment was to make comparisons in the form of analogies. The first prompt read: "Tom's car was old." Expected responses were along the lines of, 'Tom's car was older than baseball.' Instead I read, "Tom's car was older than a dead frog."

I was okay; I stifled my giggles, although it took it a few seconds of tongue biting to maintain myself. But I was good.

The next prompt was, 'Abby was hungry.' Harmless enough. Until I read the student's offering.

"Abby was very hungry, like a sad clown who had fell off his bike."

I immediately roared uncontrollably. Shawn, the other teacher asked what was wrong. Giving him the paper I replied, "Read the first two sentences and I'll be back in a few minutes."

On my return, finally beyond any wild laughter, the first thing Shawn said was, "I can see why you didn't give credit for the first answer. The frog may not have been dead that long."

I returned after another twenty minutes. Good times.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Drug Sniffing Dogs in Vancouver.

Vancouver, British Columbia, has announced a plan to use drug sniffing dogs on their mass transit, to randomly seek out users of illegal substances. At one point in my life this type of activity would not have bothered me. I would have said, 'if you're clean, you have nothing to worry about.'

Not so any longer. Governments, at least the ones in the US and Canada to be sure, have begun justifying nearly anything, with protecting the public as the excuse. It is an invalid premise, IF we still believe that people are innocent until proven guilty.

Random sweeps of any sort violate this axiom. Unless you have evidence that I'm involved in illegality, you have no right to sniff my coat, monitor my bank deposits, or hold me at the border trying to get back into my own country. It is an affront to my dignity, to the dignity of every individual, and must be fought at every turn.

I should be secure in my person unless and until there is just cause to look into my activities. If we allow this sort of admittedly minor inconvenience to continue, the jackboots will follow. The terrorists will have won anyway. We will have met the enemy, and he will be us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Clinton Redux?

Of all the political news to report, it is fascinating that Barack Obama has asked Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State. Granted, flip-flops had happened many times before in politics. But the acrimony between the two and their supporters, I thought anyway, would have precluded such a bridging of the gap.

What does it mean? Given all the other Clinton retreads which the President-elect has enlisted, it seems likely that a replay of failed 1990's policies are in order. I'm sure that the rest of the world still salivates over the Democrats big victory, but really, does anyone here want a snivelling US foreign policy? Not me. I proudly say American First when it comes to foreign issues. Not as, as we are so often accused of, imperialists. A decent respect for other nations commands that we consider their plights. Ultimately, though, our decisions have to be based on what's best for us. Even if it steps on toes.

What this surely means for us that Barack is signaling everyone that we're ready to be more open in our decision making on world events. So long as that doesn't mean letting others dictate our path, I can live that.

I simply skeptical that that will be the case.